About

TVWeek's Deputy Editor Chris Pursell is exploring the billion dollar business of sports media. Every week he will deliver the latest insights as well as a fresh perspective along with interviews with the biggest personalities in the business.

Email Chris Pursell

Categories

Blogroll

Pressbox


April 2008 Archives

Ratings Strong for NBA, NHL Playoffs

April 25, 2008 1:30 PM

Great matchups featuring tight scores, intense rivalries and high-profile teams have boosted ratings for the cable outlets featuring NBA and NHL playoffs.

The NBA in particular is off to a hot start on both its broadcast and cable partners, according to final Nielsen results. ABC's two games pulled a nice 27% bump year-to-year with a 3.3 rating/8 share compared to last year’s 2.6/7. Demos also are rising sharply, with men 18-34 growing 36% and men 18-49 up 35%.

On ESPN, the outlet’s first three playoff matchups earned a 2.0/5, a 43% jump over 2007; men 18-34 were up by more than a rating point for a 79% rise to a 2.5.

TNT also is benefiting from the revived interest in National Basketball Association games, with a ratings drive that features a 16% ratings increase (2.1 U.S. rating) over the prior year. Through nine games, the network also experienced a swell in households, delivering an 18% increase, as well as significant key demo growth in men 18-34 (31%) and men 18-49 (30%).

“Audiences are rediscovering the game again,” said Doug White, ESPN senior director of programming. “The quality of play on the floor is the highest I’ve seen in my lifetime in terms of overall perspective, because there are so many great players who are all playing the game at an extremely high level. Fans and viewers appreciate that.”

In fact, every single game that aired on ESPN on Saturday showed ratings spikes.

NBA PLAYOFFS: OPENING GAMES ON ESPN: COVERAGE RATINGS

DATE DAY TIME GAME RATING CHANGE VS. 2007
4/19 Sat. 12:30 p.m. Wizards-Cavaliers 2.1 50.0%
4/19 Sat. 7 p.m. Mavericks-Hornets 2.4 60.0%
4/19 Sat. 9:30 p.m. Jazz-Rockets 2.5 38.9%


Mr. White said ESPN Web traffic also is benefiting from the renaissance, with ESPN.com’s NBA page scoring 10 million hits on the Friday before the games.

“A lot of people don’t want to be left out of the conversation as these games are providing water-cooler talk around the country,” said Mr. White. “We’ve seen this trend all season, and it’s great to see it only get better during the playoffs.”

The NHL, meanwhile, helped boost cable network Versus to record ratings for the sport, with Game 7 of the Flyers-Capitals series on April 22 earning a 0.7 HH rating and 631,040 total viewers. It was the highest-rated NHL Quarterfinals telecast ever on the network, and the most-watched NHL Quarterfinals telecast ever on the network among homes, men 18-49, men 25-54 and total viewers.

Overall, the network saw significant increases in ratings, total viewership and viewership across all key male demos compared with year-ago figures from the first post-season round.

ESPN, NFL Network Finalize Draft Plans

April 14, 2008 2:50 PM

Never does the reading of a list of names draw the kind of ad dollars and media attention as the NFL Draft. America is hooked as once again both ESPN and NFL Network will be on hand for round-by-round action from Radio City Music Hall on April 26 and 27, given the later start time for the picks (3 p.m.).

NFL Network is on deck to offer fans more than 44 hours of programming over the next two weeks leading up to the event, including a live four-hour “NFL Total Access” pre-Draft preview show on Saturday, April 26, at 11:00 a.m. ET. Sprint is the presenting sponsor of channel’s 2008 NFL Draft coverage.

“We’ve had a four month pre-show for the 2008 NFL Draft. It started with the Senior Bowl, followed by exclusive Combine coverage and we’ve continued evaluating the pool of talent and team needs on a daily basis,” said Eric Weinberger, executive producer, NFL Network. “The addition of Brian Billick and Charley Casserly rounds out the deepest roster of talent we’ve ever had on the Draft, solidifying that NFL Network continues to offer fans everything they want and need leading up to and throughout Draft weekend.”

Joining the team as talent will be former Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick and longtime NFL general manager Charley Casserly. Rich Eisen hosts and will be joined by NFL Network’s year-round college football experts Mike Mayock and Charles Davis. NFL Network will also feature a pair of former first-round picks on location at Radio City Music Hall: Marshall Faulk and Deion Sanders. Faulk is joined by fellow analysts Steve Mariucci and Jamie Dukes; Sanders contributes live draftee interview segments plus commentary, while Adam Schefter provides live reports from the Draft floor.

This year, for the first time, NFL Network will also have a pre-show prior to Rounds 3-7 on Sunday, April 27, at 9 a,m. ET. Peppered throughout Sunday’s coverage, there will be interviews with general managers and head coaches as well as debates between media personalities from various NFL markets regarding their team’s performance over the previous days.

On NFL.com, the draft will be carried live, with an up-to-the-minute Draft tracker, individual team pages analyzing current needs as well as breakdowns of each pick as it happens and a newly redesigned information panel featuring a real-time clock and up-to-the-minute selections. Additionally, exclusive video interviews from various team facilities will be available throughout the weekend as well as behind-the-scenes access from Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

ESPN, meanwhile, will once again feature Chris Berman and Mel Kiper Jr. leading a team of analysts and reporters for ESPN’s 29th year of covering the NFL Draft. The channel will have 16 hours of live coverage over two days supplemented by Draft-related content on multiple ESPN platforms throughout the weekend, including ESPN Radio, ESPNEWS and ESPN.com.

Mr. Berman and Mr. Kiper will team with analysts Keyshawn Johnson and Steve Young, as well as Chris Mortensen at Radio City Music Hall in New York on Day 1 of the picks. In addition, “Monday Night Football’s” Mike Tirico and Ron Jaworski will also be joined by “College GameDay’s” Kirk Herbstreit to provide on-site commentary, while reporter Suzy Kolber will conduct “green room” interviews with all the top prospects invited to the Draft.

Here’s the ESPN lineup for the two days of festivities.

ESPN – Day 1:

Radio City Music Hall in New York City --

Set #1: Chris Berman, Keyshawn Johnson, Mel Kiper Jr., Steve Young and Chris Mortensen

Set #2: Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Kirk Herbstreit

Reporter: Suzy Kolber

Bristol, Conn.: SportsCenter Special: On the Clock (11 a.m.-3 p.m.) --

Trey Wingo, Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Merril Hoge, Todd McShay and Michael Smith.

NFL Team Sites --

Hank Goldberg (at Miami Dolphins), Rachel Nichols (Atlanta Falcons), Sal Paolantonio (New York Giants) and Ed Werder (Dallas Cowboys).

ESPN – Day 2:

Radio City Music Hall: Wingo, Kiper, Carter, Jaworski and Mortensen

Bristol: Tony Reali, Jeffri Chadiha, Smith, Charean Williams and Steve Wyche

ESPN Radio:

Colin Cowherd will host Day 1 coverage from Radio City Music Hall with ESPN.com NFL senior writer John Clayton, who will also provide updates from site on Day 2.

ESPNEWS (Bristol, Conn.) – Day 1:

Stan Verrett and Mike Hill will host “On the Clock” previews with McShay, Jeremy Green, Pat Forde, Chadiha, Qadry Ismail, Floyd Reese and Bob Davie beginning at 7 a.m.

Rece Davis will host Draft-related segments featuring McShay, Hoge, Marcellus Wiley and Robert Smith beginning at 3 p.m.

ESPN.com:

ESPN.com will cover the Draft with an unprecedented number of writers and bloggers, including Matt Mosley (New York), Pat Yasinskas (Tampa), Mike Sando (Seattle), James Walker (Baltimore), Bill Williamson (location TBD) and Chadiha (New York), in addition to Clayton and Len Pasquarelli at Radio City Music Hall. The Scouts Inc. team of Green, McShay, Keith Kidd, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl will also provide pick-by-pick analysis. Mr. Kiper will provide final draft grades on Sunday night.

Versus Teams With Comcast Sports Net on Hockey

April 10, 2008 5:12 PM

With hockey ratings continuing to track up, both on national and local platforms, Versus will team with Comcast Sports Net (Comcast owns Versus) to maximize the audience surge for the sport. While the sport’s ratings are up nationally on both Versus and broadcaster NBC, local audiences are also enjoying the surge.

Versus found a 50% ratings increase over the course of the season, with a .3 rating, while Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic channel averaged a .7, a 75% ratings rise. Versus was up 47% (averaging a 2.2) on Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.

The outlets will now team up to offer hockey fans even more insight for the sport heading into the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs in a unique coverage collaboration that leverages both Versus’s national NHL experience with the local presence of Comcast SportsNet.

The launch of the partnership will find Comcast SportsNet viewers in Philadelphia and the Washington/Baltimore region receiving exclusive Versus national playoffs previews, highlights and wrap-ups from the network’s team of NHL studio experts including: Bill Patrick, Keith Jones and Brian Engblom during the Capitals-Flyers quarterfinal series.

The two teams will face each other in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinals beginning on Friday, April 11.

According to Versus, “Each night that Comcast SportsNet carries the Flyers-Capitals series, Comcast SportsNet’s pre-game coverage will include a five-minute VERSUS national playoff preview live at 5:30 p.m. ET, alternating between Comcast SportsNet’s Mid-Atlantic and Philadelphia networks. VERSUS will also produce a daily national playoff wrap-up, including highlights and studio analysis, airing during Comcast SportsNet’s locally produced ‘SportsRise’ morning news programs.”

Meanwhile, Comcast SportsNet will provide VERSUS viewers with supplemental post-game reaction from Washington and Philadelphia, including player comments from the locker room and coaches’ post game press conference remarks. Versus will also utilize Comcast SportsNet’s in-depth library of regular-season Capitals and Flyers coverage, including specials, features and player profiles about each team to enhance VERSUS’ national coverage of the series.